It’s all in the mind… and the physical environment!

In October last year, the UK Government formed The Mindfulness All-Party Parliamentary Group (MAPPG) and produced an 82-page report titled Mindful Nation UK. This report identifies the importance of adopting a more mindful approach in large public sector service functions today. In fact, it even recommends funding to facilitate this, but why and what does this mean for businesses in general?

The changing face of employee wellbeing

Mindfulness is BIG business, with businesses such as Google, Harvard Business School, Intel, Goldman Sachs and even the Bank of England all turning to Mindfulness practices to help employees cope with ever-changing and stressful environments and generally promote a company-wide feeling of wellbeing!

Take Aetna as an example – Aetna is a medical insurance company and one of the 100 largest firms in the U.S. by revenue. After a near-fatal accident, 58-year old CEO Mark T. Bertolini decided to drastically transform his company. His measures included a 33% salary increase for the lowest paid employees, and the establishment of free yoga and meditation classes. These measures have had a huge impact: after the first year, the company reported a whopping $9 million saving in health care costs! Moreover, the employees who participated in the classes reported a 28% decrease in stress levels and an increase in productivity levels. These improvements were estimated to be adding a value of circa $3,000/employee a year (Gelles, 2015) - perhaps now we start to understand why our own Government is interested.

But what does this mean to us? 

Apart from what should be our desire to understand the more obvious benefits of Mindfulness for our own businesses (reduction in sick days and an increase in productivity to name just two), this perhaps gives us one of the greatest new sales growth opportunities in the OP sector for many years!

Such is the connection between mental and physical states and surroundings, that the Governments’ own Public Health England office has written a report on the impact of our working environments. This report includes statements such as “The surroundings in which employees spend their working lives are an important source of job satisfaction. They can be as much of a source of pressure as a heavy workload, poor work-life balance or organisational change”.

“The physical environment that organisations provide for employees to carry out their work activities, most commonly in some form of office space, has been shown to have a powerful role in shaping a range of psychological and behavioural outcomes for employees. Research by Robertson Cooper in 2010-13 found that 30% of employees were troubled by their physical working environment. Furthermore, employees who were troubled in this way were more likely to have a negative perception of their own levels of positive psychological wellbeing, physical and psychological health, and engagement, compared to those who were not”.

At L-evate, our expertise and understanding of Mindfulness and Wellbeing, coupled with our knowledge of the Office Products market, has enabled us to expose an entirely new approach to business. As more and more companies look to implement a Mindfulness policy, they will also need to review and embrace a more mindful physical work environment if they are to ensure a return on the excellent mental wellbeing investment they have made. After all, mastering a more mindful, mentally happy state will never be achieved when spending eight ours in a poorly designed or depressing office.

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Posted by Austin Clark (95)

Written on 15th September 2016

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